Saturday, June 9, 2012
A Busy Spring
The Village of Camden Corners
A Busy Spring
“Otto, I am afraid I will be out of a job soon and out of Mr. Harvey's home. He told me this morning that he and Mrs. Stout are going to be married. He is so happy I didn't want to ask what he was planning to do with the house. An hour later Jamison Bentley came by and started measuring and drawing and making notes. He said he would let Mr. Harvey know his findings this afternoon. Just before I left, Mr. Bentley came to call again. I hope I can find employment Otto. I know Mrs. Stout has her own housekeeper. Mr. Harvey will no longer need my services.”
Tears were beginning to form in her eyes.
“Now Clara, you know we have always been able to manage no matter how dire our circumstances become. If you can't find another position right away we do have a little bit of savings left in Mr. Harvey's bank. I think you are more sorry about not being able to go to that house everyday than you are about losing your job.”
“You are right Otto. I will miss that house. I started working for old Mr. and Mrs. Harvey when I was just a girl. Mrs. Harvey knew I loved polishing the railing on the stairs in the foyer and always made certain there was plenty of oil soap in the cleaning closet.”
Meanwhile, Jamison Bentley was going over blueprints he had drawn up.
“Leland, I think you will be happy to learn that your home will easily convert into eight individual rooms on the upper levels with space on the first floor for a full private apartment and a large gathering room or parlor on the first floor. I have left the stairway intact as you requested. None of the weight bearing walls will be compromised. Whoever designed and built this house must have envisioned it being transformed into a multifamily home one day.”
Jamison went on to say he had conferred with Reggie Blackburn and Reggie would be arriving soon to examine the house if Leland was in agreement.
“The sooner the better. I didn't mention the possibility of the alteration of the house to Mrs. Rollins for fear it would not be a suitable alternative. I'm afraid she may have the idea she will be without employment. I would like to set her straight as soon after I hear what Reggie has to say.”
Reggie and his right hand man, Ernie appeared at the door. They examined the structure of the building from top to bottom and determined everything to be in order.
After settling on a fair price and signing a contract, Jamison, Reggie and Ernie all left the residence.
Harvey couldn't wait another minute. It had started raining quite heavily as he drove his horse and carriage down the streets of Camden Corners to the little cabin on the lake where his housekeeper had lived for many years. Harvey noticed the patchwork on the roof and wasn't surprised when he heard the sound of raindrops hitting pans placed in various areas of the kitchen. The pans were catching the rain that was leaking through the roof.
“Mr. Harvey, please come in.” Clara and Otto knew this couldn't be good news. Mr. Harvey had never appeared at their door before.
“May I serve you a cup of coffee or tea Mr. Harvey?”
“If you have some coffee already made that would be wonderful Mrs. Rollins. It is rather chilly out there this evening. I'm sure you are wondering why I am here. I didn't want to mention earlier today that I would no longer be in need of a housekeeper. I assure you it has nothing to do with the exceptional service you have given to me and to my mother and father before me.”
“I understand Mr. Harvey. I wish you a much happiness with Mrs. Stout.” Clara was doing her best to keep the tears at bay.
“I don't think you do understand, Clara.” He had never used Mrs. Rollins' first name before but could tell she was upset and decided to put an end to the formality that had always been between them.
“Otto, please sit down as this concerns you also.”
Leland went on to explain his plans for the old house with the ultimate goal of turning the house over to Clara and Otto.
“Clara, you are the only person I know who has loved that house as much as my mother did and I think she would be happy to know you will be the new owner.”
Clara couldn't believe her ears. “Mr. Harvey, we simply couldn't accept your offer. Otto and I are simple people but we do have our pride and we could never accept charity.”
Leland was ashamed of himself. Of course they wouldn't accept the house as a gift. He wasn't thinking clearly when he suggested it.
“Clara, I apologize if it sounded like charity. I was thinking more in the line of a partnership. If my plan to convert it to a rental property is to work, I will need folks I am able to trust to handle the maintenance and upkeep of the house. I know how you feel about the house and would like you to make it your home. We can work out a financial arrangement later. It would be an income property. As much as I would like to keep the rents reasonable, I do believe we will also be able to make a nice profit. I would like you and Otto to share that profit. I'll let you think about what I have said but I hope you will agree to the arrangement.”
Otto spoke up, “Mr. Harvey, I don't believe we have to think too hard about your offer. I have known you for years and I have always known you to be a fair man. I can assure you Clara and I will do our very best to keep the home in the best possible shape.”
After Leland left, Clara gave her husband a hug. “Are you sure Otto? I know how you feel about this old house with the leaky roof. Do you think you will be able to leave it for a fancy place in town?”
“Clara, we have lived in this old place since the day we were married. You have never complained when you had to come home to this shack after spending the day cleaning the house that you loved. I think it's time you had a nice warm home where you didn't have to hear the sound of rain dripping through the rafters.”
The rain had let up and the stars were beginning to shine brightly as Leland wended his way home. His horse seemed to have a mind of its own as he slowly approached the Merryweather mansion. “As long as we are here Festus we might as well stop in to see how Miss Millie is doing this evening,” said Leland as he guided his horse up the path.
He knocked on the door and James Robinson answered it.
“Uncle Leland, how nice to see you this evening. Aunt Millie was hoping you would stop by.”
“James, don't reveal all my secrets. Good evening Leland. The boy is right. I was hoping to see you tonight. I think we have some celebrating to do. James, bring out the champagne.”
Leland was happy he stopped by here instead of going directly to his big lonely house. He told everyone about his plans for the house. James' ears perked up when Leland explained the rooms would be available to young nurses from out of town.
“When's the wedding?” said Leo as his wife tried to hush him.
“It can't be too soon for me,” said Leland. “What do you say we visit with Vicar Will in the morning.”
“I say yes. I can't wait to be Mrs. Leland Harvey. I wonder if the vicar has any plans for day after tomorrow. I believe my brother will be in town and I would love to have him at the wedding.”
Ernie Black was taking his last bite of a corned beef sandwich and washing it down with his favorite draft when he looked out the window of O'Sullivan's Pub and saw the beautiful redhead he noticed earlier in the day. She was with Oscar and Nettie Crowley and they were headed this way.
Oscar opened the door for the ladies and in they walked. Beverly noticed Ernie at a booth seated all by himself.
“How well do you know Ernie Black, Nettie? I wonder if he would like some company at his booth.”
Oscar spoke up. “As a matter of fact I did want to speak to Ernie about a small project at the office. Shall we join him?”
“Since when do you go to Reggie's foreman about a project?” said Nettie.
“Since I am looking out for your friend's interests,” he laughed.
“I always knew you were a romantic, Oscar.”
“Hello Ernie, may we join you? I have a little project I need some advice with. Oh, by the way, may I introduce Miss Beverly Mills. Beverly is going to have a staring role in our production of Hannah's Treasure. You've heard about that, I'm sure.”
Ernie could barely find his voice. “Yes sir. I believe we are going to be building some sets for the play. It's a pleasure to meet you, ma'am.”
“Please call me Beverly and the pleasure is all mine. Tell me Mr. Ernie Black, is there a Mrs. Ernie Black?” Beverly knew there wasn't but thought it might speed up the process a bit. She liked to put her cards on the table. She didn't know how long she would be staying in Camden Corners and didn't want to waste any time on the preliminaries of getting to know Mr. Black.
“Only my maw,” said Ernie. “I was named after my paw.”
“Well, how nice. Now, what do you suggest I order this evening? I am ever so hungry.” Beverly batted her eyes at Ernie and Oscar was afraid the poor boy was going to choke on his beer.
“Beverly, behave yourself.” Nettie admonished. “Ernie, you will have to forgive Beverly. She has a flair for the dramatic. That's why we asked her to come to town to perform in our play.”
“Yes, and rehearsal begins in the morning. Will you be there tomorrow working on the sets, Ernie?”
“I might drop by during my lunch break. Maybe I'll see you then. Now if you will excuse me, I'd better get back to the boarding house. Oscar you wanted to speak to me about a project.”
“It can wait Ernie, you get going. Have a good evening.”
“Thank you sir and you do the same. Miss Mills, I hope to run into you again. Good night, Miss Nettie.”
“Beverly, I think you shocked that poor boy. Ernie is a nice young man please don't hurt him.”
“Oh Miss Nettie, I don't intend to hurt him. It isn't going to be easy but I do believe there will be a Mrs. Ernie Black, Jr. one of these days and I know just the person who would be perfect for the part.”
“All I can say is,” said Oscar, “I'm very happy you are staying with us and not the Wharton Boarding House. Martha Wharton's establishment would never be the same if you and Ernie were both living there at the same time.” He laughed and ordered himself a Reuben with extra sauerkraut. He would be sorry later in the evening but for right now it sounded especially good.
Ernie was whistling as he walked to Wharton's and the quiet of his room. The words Mrs. Ernie Black kept going through his mind. Mrs. Ernie Black...Beverly Black. He liked the sound of that even better.